BELMOPAN, Belize – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Birgit Gerstenberg, during a visit to refugee women, expressed the dire need for further support to achieve gender equality for both people forced to flee and locals.
Both UN organizations met in Las Flores where six women are part of the Group of United Refugee Women – a forum where they empower one another across different refugee-hosting communities in Belize to develop possible solutions to their plight.
“I am impressed by the courage and commitment of these women, to fight for implementing their dreams and plans, coming from different backgrounds and moving their families and communities towards a better life,” said Birgit Gerstenberg, resident coordinator, United Nations Belize.
Belize is home to 2,394 registered and an estimated 3,400 more unregistered asylum seekers and refugees who have come to Belize seeking safe haven and protection, mostly from nearby El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Out of these 31 percent are 18 – 59-year-old women seeking protection and a chance at starting over and making ends meet for their families.
“In a global context of increasing socio-economic pressures, additional tensions in homes and communities, and growing needs heightened by the pandemic, promoting gender equality and further protection is much more necessary,” said Joseph Hendrikx, associate field officer for UNHCR Belize. “We must stand together to combat gender-based violence and increase access to education and livelihoods opportunities for all women.”
Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities, treatment, and valuation of women and men, and boys and girls. Women and girls generally have fewer opportunities, fewer resources, lower status, and less power and influence than men and boys. UNHCR supports the empowerment and resilience of women around the world, including refugee and asylum-seeking women and the communities hosting them.